I can't help but get conflicting signals about the entire Sean Higgins situation (Signed, Sealed and Sorry, Feb. 23). It's hard to believe he never gave a "hoot" about UCLA. Preseason publications named UCLA as one of his possible choices. Basketball guru Dick Vitale gave the Bruins the edge over Michigan just days before Higgins signed. USA Today quoted Higgins the day after he committed as saying, "Al McGuire told me that the two toughest decisions of my life would be where to go to college and who to marry. I've got one of them out of the way."
Coercion? Illegal inducements? Higgins had until April to sign. Could it be possible that receiving a phone call from his father one night or seeing Michigan on cable TV another night just simply changed his mind? Think about it. A confused 18-year-old indeed.
Amazing! Following UCLA's upset of North Carolina just a few months ago, fans scrambled to the Pauley Pavilion floor to congratulate the Bruins. As I was walking toward the UCLA locker room I couldn't help but notice a 6'8" kid wearing a Fairfax High School letterman jacket. I thought, Could this be the highly touted All-America Sean Higgins? Indeed it was! As Higgins turned toward me I saw him smiling from ear to ear, as if he already believed he was part of the team. People were congratulating him for choosing Westwood. From his comments it appeared he was more than happy with his decision. The Bruins' victory came almost two weeks after Higgins signed his letter of intent.
Regardless of where Higgins winds up, he signed a letter of intent with UCLA. There is good reason for Higgins and his father, Earle, to attempt to prove coercion or recruiting violations, because this is the only way he can go to another four-year school and be eligible to play immediately.
If UCLA had released Higgins from his letter, he would have lost one year of eligibility. If the Pac-10 and NCAA find no coercion or recruiting violations, he stands to lose two years. It seems obvious that only a school with nothing to hide would turn such a sensitive matter over to Pac-10 and NCAA investigators. It is Higgins, not UCLA, who has made a very big mistake.
SAMUEL A. LEVI
Sherman Oaks, Calif.
I think Armen Keteyian and Alexander Wolff did an excellent job of showing the pressures placed on young athletes like Sean Higgins. They showed that sometimes a kid can make a mistake because of such pressures. After reading the article, I feel Sean deserves a chance to play at Ann Arbor.
Jack McCallum's Feb. 23 article, Laying Down the L.A. Law, had to be one of the most irritating stories ever. The thing that sticks in my side the most was Mychal Thompson's comment about Kevin McHale's technical foul: "He's always complaining; he should have gotten four or five technicals."
I know Thompson is new to L.A. and has probably never seen Magic Johnson complain. But wasn't Thompson watching that Sunday when Johnson did his "you can't be calling a foul on me, ref" dance and received no technical. If any player in the NBA deserves to be called for four or five technicals in a game, it's Magic.
I was amused to read Larry Bird's whining about how "terrible" it was for San Antonio to "go and help the Lakers like that" by sending them Mychal Thompson. O.K., the trade was a little one-sided. But for years, opposing G.M.s have wandered into Red Auerbach's office, stared at this little swinging watch he has and staggered out, dazed, to announce the donation of yet another great player to the Celts. In the last few years, for instance, the Celtics have gotten two NBA final-round MVPs (Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton) in return for Rick Robey and a gimpy Cedric Maxwell. As a Laker fan, it is nice to see my front office playing Svengali for a change.
ABERCROMBIE & CO.
The article about Josephine Abercrombie (Fighting Lady, Feb. 2) brought back memories of a movie actress who became a boxing manager in Hollywood in the mid-1940s. Mozelle Britton Dinehart, widow of actor Alan Dinehart, was an avid fan of the amateur fights at Jim Jeffries's Barn in Burbank, just over the Hollywood hills.
Although she lived in a spacious Spanish-style home with a swimming pool, she began managing boxers to regain the spotlight and, with luck, generate substantial income. Her most promising fighter was Spider Mock, a lightweight who graduated from the amateur ranks at Jeffries's Barn to main events at Hollywood Legion Stadium.
Dana Point, Calif.
•Dinehart and Mock posed for this shot in 1946.—ED.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.